Hi Fellow Clergy People,
There is an immense amount of work that we can do together as a group and also via the power of our congregations. We bring the eternal principles of our traditions — love, justice, compassion, peace — to life and there is no greater need for those things than in the life of an orphan. Together we can do more.
I have a few thoughts that I would like to share with you.
1.) I have been working on a Jewish text-based learning program to explore many aspects of adoption.It is meant for groups of adoptive parents and thiose interested in adoption. It does not use “flat” texts — texts that state something and that’s that, like “protect the orphan”. Those commandments are important, but for this curriculum I have selected texts that we can mine and explore from many angles, while also from a shared experience of adoption. I hope to start sharing it soon, and get input on its development which will certainly be on-going.
2.) I also have a model for what I’m calling Beitecha, a Hebrew word that means “Your House”. It’s taken from the psalm ashrei yoshvei veitecha, “Blessed are they that dwell in Your house” because an adoptive family is a microcosm of God’s house — a mix of joy and tragedy and hope and loss and love.The program is a matching program between a synagogue (or church or mosque) and an orphanage. The idea is that a small group of people within the community would adopt a number of children from the same orphanage. The children would grow up in families that are all part of the same synagogue (or church or mosque) and the community would integrate some heritage traditions from their home country. In addition, the synagogue (or, or, or) would have an obligation to the place of their children’s birth and provide resources — whatever the community has to offer — to help stem the tide of orphans and make life there more sustainable. Imagine the cohesive power such an endeavor would have in the community!
Say, for example, a few families from a synagogue each adopt a child from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The synagogue might then incorporate the Sigd Festival — an Ethiopia Jewish holiday (praying for the renewal of the alliance between the people, God, and Torah) — sell Ethiopian Jewish art at the gift shop and sometimes make Ethiopian food for community gatherings (kosher of course!). The community might develop a committee that organizes efforts from doctors, farmers, entrepreneurs, who donate time to an on-the-ground organization in the home country.
3. Create an organization of rabbis for adoption that would join forces with other clergy in this effort.
4. Speak about unparented children and the Jewish imperative to adopt. Talk about it with couples in pre-marital counseling. Make it an active part of your community’s conversation.
I hope we can meet by email and, even better, in person one day. Please be in touch.
B’vracha (in blessing),